Least You Need to Know to Play by Stephen McKnight

1This is a summary of the play of Magic Realm. Details of the setup and play can be found in the full
Second Edition Rules and can be accessed by the Second Edition Rules Index. Tables and lists of characters,
weapons, treasures, spells, monsters, and natives can found in the Lists section of the rulebook.
The Least You Need to Know to Play Magic Realm1
Magic Realm is an adventure-battle game in which players take the part of characters trying to fulfill
their chosen goals (Victory Conditions) in the ruins of a magical civilization, filled with hidden treasure
and crisscrossed by twisting paths and secret passages through caves, woods, and mountains. The
kingdom is inhabited by swarms of monsters that the characters must battle or avoid, and by sparse
groups of friendly or unfriendly natives that may assist a character for hire, or on the other hand, attack
him with deadly force. Characters compete (or cooperate) to gain victory points selected at the beginning
of the game from five areas: 1) gold accumulated by finding and selling treasures, 2)great treasures
found, 3) spells learned from runes found in the kingdom, 4)fame gained for killing monsters or
collecting certain famous treasures, and 5)notoriety gained by killing monsters, natives, or other
characters or by holding certain infamous treasures. Any player who fulfills his victory conditions at the
end of 28 days wins. The player who has the most points scored is the victor. Each turn (day) of the
game is played in four parts: Birdsong/Sunrise, Daylight, Sunset/Evening, and Midnight
A. Permanent spells that are provided the right color magic go into effect for the rest of the day.
B. Players record (write down) their planned activities for the day for their characters and the
activities for their hired natives.
C. Characters and hired natives that are FOLLOWING someone are put with the character or hired
leader they are following.
D. One die is rolled to determine which monsters and native groups are active (prowling). On the
seventh day of each game week (day 7, 14, 21, and 28) all prowling unhired natives and monsters
(including those killed) are returned to where they started the game.
E. Attention counters of characters and hired leaders who are not FOLLOWING are mixed together
face down – they will be drawn one at a time to determine when players take their turn.
A. One attention counter is picked at random.
B. That character or hired leader (and all others following him) becomes unhidden and executes his
recorded activities exactly as written down, one phase at a time. If a recorded activity is not possible
when the player moves, that phase is lost.
C. Daylight consists ordinarily of four phases in which each character or hired leader can perform
any one of the activities below. If a character starts his turn in a cave clearing or moves into a cave
clearing, he gets only two phases that day. If a player gets a bonus phase at a particular location (at a
dwelling, for instance) he can record the phase as long as he will be in the location when he executes
the bonus phase. If he gets a bonus phase from an item, it must be active when he records and
executes the phase. (Horses become inactive on entering a cave.) The activities that can be executed
each phase and [in brackets] what must be written down, are:
1. MOVE [M tile, clearing]—character can move to an adjacent clearing along a path. He can
change paths only at a clearing, not where paths cross on a bridge. To use a hidden path or secret
passage he must have already discovered it. Ordinarily two move phases must be recorded to
enter a mountain clearing (entirely surrounded by grey mountain symbol). Characters must leave
behind any item heavier than their strongest MOVE action chit in play.
2. HIDE [H]—for each hide phase, may roll once on the Hide table. If successful, he turns his
counter green side up; he cannot be blocked or attacked by monsters, by unhired natives, or by
characters and hired natives who have not found “Hidden Enemies” during a SEARCH phase that
day. Characters will become unhidden just before executing their first phase the next day, or if
they block or attack anyone (or are blocked or attacked) during this day.
Note: All die rolls, unless modified by special advantages, are made with two dice, but only
the higher number counts. This means that there are 11 chances out of 36 of rolling a 6, but
only 1 chance in 36 of rolling a 1.
3. ALERT [A]—may turn weapon ready (asterisk) side up or prepare one magic spell to use in
the combat phase.
4. REST [R]—may bring wounded action chit with no asterisk back into play or change a
wounded single asterisk chit to fatigue or bring a fatigued single-asterisk chit back into play.
Double-asterisk chits can be unwounded or returned from fatigue by “making change” and
fatiguing another single asterisk chit.
5. SEARCH [S]—may roll on any one of the Search Tables to discover secret passages, hidden
paths, hidden characters (who you then may block and attack), or treasure locations. From a
mountain clearing may use Peer Table to Peer into a non-cave clearing on an adjacent tile. May
also use a SEARCH phase to Loot a treasure location he has found; or a stack of abandoned
treasures/weapons/armor/horses in a clearing. When a character takes an item he must choose to
activate, inactivate, or abandon it (hired natives may not activate items). If a character has an
active artifact, or is at a discovered treasure location with spells and has the right type of MAGIC
chit, he may roll on the Reading Runes Table to attempt to learn the spell. Only the Witch King
or a character with the Phantom Glass active can roll on the Magic Sight table.
6. TRADE [T]—may either a) sell one or more belongings for the basic gold price to a visitor or
unhired native leader in the clearing, or b) look at the treasures held by a native group or visitor
and then roll once on the Meeting Table to attempt to buy one weapon, armor, horse, or treasure
from natives (if the leader of a native group is unhired and in the clearing) or visitors. The result
gives the price for which the leader/visitor will sell the item. Before rolling on the Meeting table,
the character may “buy drinks,” paying 1 gold for each unhired member of the native group in the
clearing to make the group one level friendlier for one roll only.
7. HIRE [H]—may roll once on the Meeting Table to determine the cost of hiring a native group
for 14 days. Rogues and the Order must be hired one at a time, higher numbered natives before
lower (e.g., R7 before R6) and the leader (HQ) last of all. Other natives must be hired as a group:
all unhired members in the clearing must be hired. You may HIRE or TRADE while hidden, but
if you are blocked you will become unhidden. You can buy drinks before the roll.
8. FOLLOW [F character/leader]—for the entire day will move with another character or hired
native leader and share in all the activities and discoveries of that character. If a character Loots,
followers (as well as any other characters in the clearing who can see him) will find the treasure
location but cannot take any treasure; if he TRADES, HIRES, or SPELLS, the followers do
nothing. All hired native non-leaders can only follow (hired native leaders have their own turns
to do activities and can move on their own or follow). A character can always leave behind his
hired following natives, or, if he wishes, can leave behind any following person who hasn’t found
Hidden Enemies when he moves to a new clearing while hidden. Following persons will also be
left behind when a character FLIES or makes a double move with a pony unless the followers can
fly or have a pony.
9. FLY [FL tile]—a character with a spell or activated flying artifact can use phase to fly to
adjacent tile or to another clearing in the same tile. When finished flying for the day the character
rolls one die and lands at random in a clearing of the tile he is in.
10. SPELL [SP]—The first SPELL phase of the day (SPX) is used only to prepare to do an
enchantment. He can use second or succeeding SPELL phase in day to a) enchant one of his
MAGIC chits or b) enchant the tile he is in. Enchantments have the following effect:
a) Enchanting a MAGIC action chit transforms the chit to color magic. The MAGIC chit is
turned over to indicate its enchanted status. MAGIC chits convert as follows.
Type I MAGIC chit –> white color magic
Type II MAGIC chit –> grey color magic
Type III MAGIC chit –> gold color magic
Type IV MAGIC chit –> purple color magic
Type V MAGIC chit –> black color magic
Other MAGIC chits (type VI, VII, or VIII) may not change to color magic.
b) A MAGIC action chit in the presence of the right color magic (present in the tile or
supplied by playing another transformed color MAGIC chit) can be used to enchant (turn
over) a tile. This can change the roadways and adds color magic to the tile. The following
MAGIC chits must be played with the indicated color magic:
Type I MAGIC chit + white color magic
Type II MAGIC chit + grey color magic
Type III MAGIC chit + gold color magic
Type IV MAGIC chit + purple color magic
Type V MAGIC chit + black color magic
Other types and combinations of MAGIC chits cannot enchant tiles. Color magic chits returns
to an ordinary MAGIC chit and are fatigued when used.
D. Additional activities possible at the beginning or end of any phase (do not have to be recorded):
1. At beginning of phase:
a) Sell/Trade: may sell, trade, or give weapons, treasures, information, or discoveries (in the
clearing) to another character in the same clearing for any price agreed.
b) Rearrange Belongings: may activate, deactivate, or abandon items. (Can only have one
weapon, horse, gloves or boots treasure activated at a time.)
2. At the end of the phase: Blocking. A character or hired leader may block another character,
monster, or hired leader if either individual ends a phase in the same clearing. Only
characters/leaders who have found “Hidden Enemies” that day can block hidden characters or
leaders. Both the blocking and blocked individuals become unhidden and end their move at that
point. No further phases can be executed but both may block other individuals. Monsters always
block unhidden characters and hired leaders in the same clearing at the end of the
character/leader’s phase or when the monster arrives in the clearing. Hired non-leaders cannot
block or be blocked, and unhired natives block only on “Block/Battle” Meeting Table rolls.
E. At end of a character’s DAYLIGHT phases, all face-down Warning counters (yellow) and
Sound/Treasure Site counters (red or gold) turn face up. Unblocked prowling monsters in his hex
will move to character’s clearing and block all unhidden characters. The first player to finish his turn
in a hex tile each day causes prowling monsters and natives to move from the set-up table to the hex.
Monsters summoned by Warning counters appear in the character’s clearing, monsters summoned by
Sound or Site counters appear in the clearing with the same number as the counter.
Day spells end at Sunset.
Combat may occur in any clearing which contains a character or hired native leader and any other
character, native, or monster. In addition combat rounds will be played in any clearing in which a
character wishes to cast a spell, rearrange belongings, or run out of the clearing. No combat occurs in
clearing with only hired non-leaders, monsters, and/or unhired natives.
Rounds of combat consisting of an Encounter Step, a Melee Step, and a Fatigue Step, are played until
two successive rounds are completed with no wounds, fatigue, armor damage, kills, or spells cast, and no
Tremendous monsters red-side-up. Each character, monster, or native should have an available Melee
Sheet to plot attacks and maneuvers.
When Combat begins, each player who has a character or hired native (even if hidden) in a clearing with
unhired natives must roll on the Meeting Table for each unhired native group to see if they are battling
him (the character’s die roll modifiers apply and he may “buy drinks” before the roll). A “Block/Battle”
result in combat means that the character and his hired natives are battling all unhired members of that
native group in the clearing for the rest of the day. (“Block/Battle” rolled during daylight only results
in the native group blocking the character/leader.) Unhired natives will also begin to battle a character if
he or his hired natives lure or attack one of the group.
At the start of Combat each day, all heavy and medium monsters are turned light side up. Tremendous
monsters are turned red side down. Unhired native horses are turned walking (non-asterisk) side up.
A. ENCOUNTER STEP: In the Encounter Step, monsters and natives are assigned to characters and
their hired natives, characters may run away or alert a weapon, and spells are cast. Note: If natives
and monsters are not assigned in the Encounter Step, they don’t attack this round.
1. Luring: Beginning with the first character to move that day and going around the board,
characters may become unhidden and take any number of monsters or unhired natives on their
Melee Sheet to fight (or run away from). Hired natives and their horses can be played either side
up and take one monster or unhired native on their sheet. Monsters (except red-side-up
tremendous monsters) or unhired natives attacking a character can be lured away, but a monster
or native already lured by a native cannot be lured away by another character or native.
2. Random Assignment: All unassigned monsters or battling unhired natives are assigned by die
roll to unhidden characters. If a character is hidden or not in the clearing, he rolls and assign
monsters or battling natives to any of his unhidden hired natives in the clearing. There is no limit
to the number of monsters or battling natives that can be assigned to a character (or hired native if
the hiring character is hidden or not in the clearing) by random assignment. If everyone is
hidden, monsters and unhired natives are not assigned and do not attack this round, but they can
be targeted and attacked by characters in the Melee Step.
3. Deployment/Charging: Beginning with the first character to move and going around the
board, each character can deploy any of his unassigned hired natives onto the sheet of another
unhidden character, native, or monster to attack them. (A hired leader who has found Hidden
Enemies that day can be deployed against a hidden target—unhiding it.) He may place his hired
native and its horse either side up. A monster or native must be returned to their own sheet if
attacked. Special: if the last attacker is removed from the sheet of a monster/native, the defender
leaves his sheet and becomes the newest attacker on the ex-attackers sheet. Example: The
Amazon’s hired Lancer lures a heavy Troll onto its sheet. In the Deployment step, the Berserker
assigns his hired Rogue to attack the Troll. The Troll becomes the defender on its own sheet and
the Rogue is the attacker. Now alone on its sheet, the Lancer is put, along with his horse, on the
sheet of the Troll as the last attacker. If the Berserker, instead, played his Rogue to attack the
Lancer, the Lancer would remain on his own sheet and the Troll and the Rogue would both be his
attackers; in the Melee Step the Amazon would select one of them as the Lancer’s target.
The character may also charge another character by putting a MOVE action chit or his active
horse (either side up) on the other character’s Melee Sheet if the other character is unhidden or if
the character has found Hidden Enemies (both characters become unhidden if the player charges).
Charging may prevent the other character from performing an action in the round.
4. Actions: Beginning with the first character and going around the board, each character can play
a color chit to activate a permanent spell and, if he didn’t Charge during the Deployment step, he
can play a MOVE, FIGHT, or MAGIC chit to do one of the following actions. Important: The
action chit played must have a number less than (equal to or less than for MAGIC chit) any
MOVE chit or horse counter, or any monster or native move time, on his Melee Sheet.
(Smaller numbers are faster speeds.)
a) play a FIGHT chit to alert his weapon.
b) play a MOVE chit to run out of the clearing. The character is put half-way between
clearings on one of the paths leading out of the clearing. If he just entered the clearing that
day, he must be on the same path he came in . He must move to one of the two clearings as
his first activity the next day. Anything on his sheet is unassigned for this round. You cannot
run away from a Tremendous monster turned red-side-up on your sheet, and natives never run
c) play a MAGIC chit to cast a spell. If the character is casting a recorded spell he must play
a MAGIC chit of the same type as the spell; both the MAGIC chit and the recorded spell are
tied up and can’t be used again until the spell expires. Spells that have been awakened from
an artifact by Reading Runes can be cast using the artifact instead of a MAGIC chit, as long
as the artifact and spell are of the same type. Artifact spells and all prepared spells have a
time of zero (cannot be stopped by a MOVE chit). All spells must have the correct color
magic present at the time they are cast. The color magic can be present in the clearing or
supplied by one of the spellcaster’s transformed MAGIC chits. If all these conditions are met
the spell is cast. It will go into effect when a target is selected in the Melee Step if it is not
stopped by another character’s spell. Note: This is the only time that spells can be cast.
c)If the character didn’t Charge or do one of the actions above, he may activate and/or
deactivate one weapon or treasure, or abandon any of his belongings in the clearing.
B. MELEE STEP: In the Melee Step, targets for spells and weapon attacks are chosen, characters
play attacks and defensive maneuvers for themselves and their hired natives, and the attacks are
resolved to see what harm is inflicted on the targets.
1. All horses played in the Encounter Step turn over (native and character horses played in the
Encounter Step cannot be played on the same side in the Melee step). Monsters and unhired
natives on their own sheets are assigned to attack the last hired native put on their sheet.
2. Attention Counters: Characters mix their attention counters and select them at random.
3. Selecting Targets: When his attention counter is chosen, each character makes the following
a) He selects a target for his own attack or spell by putting his attention counter on the
target (or on the target’s Melee Sheet). Additional targets for multiple target spells are
announced. If he Charged this turn, he must target the character he Charged or not attack at
all. A character, unlike natives and monsters, can attack targets not on his own sheet. When
he puts an attention counter on another character, monster, or native (or himself if he is
casting a spell on himself) the character and his target are immediately unhidden (unless the
AMBUSH rule is used). Note: When a character selects a target, he does not know who will
be targeted by a character who goes after him. This creates opportunities for deception.
b) He selects a target for his hired natives that are on their own sheet by putting one of the
attacking monsters or natives on the sheet in a maneuver box.
c) He positions his hired natives who are attackers on the sheet of a monster or unhired
native. (Those on the sheet of hired natives are positioned by the hiring character when
attacks and maneuvers are plotted.) He cannot turn any counters over. The defending
monster/unhired native is placed in the “CHARGE and THRUST” red box and its head/club
or horse is put in the “DODGE and SWING” box. The defender’s target (the last hired native
put on his sheet in the Encounter Step) is put in one the Maneuver boxes at the bottom of the
Melee Sheet; his horse may be put in the same or another Maneuver box. Other attackers are
positioned in one or more of the attack circles.
4. Spell Effects: If a character casting a spell is himself a target of a spell, his spell will be
canceled if the speed of his spell is not equal to or faster than the spell aimed at him (prepared and
artifact spells; speed=0). If a character’s spell is canceled he may choose to attack the target of his
spell with a weapon. An uncanceled spell goes into effect now unless it is an Attack Spell
aimed at a character/native/monster, in which case it must hit like any attack (as in 7
5. Attacks and Maneuvers: Secretly and simultaneously each character can place a MOVE chit
(or horse counter if not in a cave) in the CHARGE, DUCK, or DODGE maneuver boxes on his
own Melee sheet and a FIGHT chit with a weapon (or MAGIC chit if attacking with an Attack
spell) in the SMASH, SWING, and THRUST attack circles. The FIGHT chit strength (L=Light,
M=Medium, H=Heavy, T=Tremendous) must equal or exceed the weight of the weapon, and the
MOVE chit strength must equal or exceed the weight of any weapon, armor, or treasure carried.
Even if otherwise unarmed, all characters are assumed to have a dagger with Negligible weight
and one sharpness star that they can attack with by playing a FIGHT chit without a weapon.
Active armor counters go in the appropriate armor boxes. Important: A character may play no
more than two asterisks total on his FIGHT, MOVE, and MAGIC chits in any round,
including those he played in the Encounter Step.
At the same time, character also secretly positions all the natives and monsters on his own sheet
and on his hired natives’ sheets. Natives maneuver and fight in the same direction unless the
native has a horse and is not in a cave, in which case the horse may be played as a move in one
direction and the native as a fight in another. Attacking monsters/natives cannot be turned over.
a) The attacking natives and monsters on a character’s sheet are placed in the red boxes.
The attackers must fill as many boxes as possible, and a native/monster cannot be played in
the same box as his horse or head/club. You cannot leave one box empty and double up
attackers in another box.
b) The defending hired native on his own sheet is positioned in one of the red boxes. He
may be placed either side up, and his horse can be placed in the same or a different box.
c) The attacking natives and monsters on his defending hired native’s sheet are
positioned. The defender’s target is placed in one of the maneuver boxes; the horse or
head/club counter must be in a different box from the attacking native/monster. Other
attackers are put in the attack circles, filling as many boxes as possible and separated from
their head/club/horse.
6. Randomizing: The final attack/maneuver directions for all monsters, unhired natives, and
hired natives not on their own sheet is determined by rolling one die and consulting the
“Repositioning Denizens” chart. Then, two dice are rolled for each box with medium or heavy
monsters and/or natives: they “change tactics” and their counters turn over if there is a 6 on
either die. Tremendous monsters do not change tactics randomly; they turn over only if they hit
as in Step 7 below. Hired natives on their own sheets do not change directions or tactics.
7. Resolving Attacks: All attacks and maneuvers are now revealed simultaneously. The speed
and direction of the attack (the FIGHT or MAGIC speed) is compared with the speed and
direction of the maneuver (the MOVE speed). An attack hits under either of two conditions:
a) If an attack matches direction with the maneuver of the target it always hits.
b) An attack which missed directions still hits if it has a speed which is less than
(“undercuts”) the move speed or MOVE chit played of the target. (The attack always
undercuts a character who didn’t play a MOVE chit.) The speed of the attack is:
i ) the weapon speed if the weapon counter has a number on the face-up side,
ii) the FIGHT speed if the weapon has no number (or for natives/ monsters),
iii) the number on the MAGIC chit if it is a magical attack (prepared magic, artifact
spells: Speed=0)
8. Attacks that missed are removed, attacks that hit are checked to see which hit first.
a) On the first round of battle in clearing the order of attack is determined by weapon
length from longest to shortest. Attack speed breaks ties.
b) On successive rounds of battle the lowest attack speed hits first with weapon length
determining ties.
9. Harm: The effect of each attack is determined in order, before other hits are resolved.
a) The strength of the attack—Tremendous, Heavy, Medium, Light, or Negligible—is
determined from the weight of the weapon, adding one level for each sharpness star and
subtracting one star if the attack hits armor. Striking weapon attacks are increased one
level if the strength of the FIGHT chit exceeds the weight of the weapon. Missile attacks
and magical attacks must roll on the MISSILE TABLE which may increase or decrease the
attack strength. Negligible and lower level attacks have no effect and are removed.
b) If the attack direction does not intercept an armor counter, the target is killed if the
strength of the attack equals or exceeds the target’s weight/ vulnerability. If the attack
strength is less than the vulnerability, monsters and natives are unharmed, and characters
must remove one active action chit from play, wounded, in the Fatigue Step. The chit is
turned over to signify the wound.
c) If the attack direction does intercept an armor counter, the character receives only a
wound if the attack strength is Medium or greater, and is unharmed it the attack strength is
Light or less. The armor counter is damaged if the attack strength equals the armor weight
and destroyed (and instantly removed) if it is exceeded. Damaged armor is destroyed if
damaged again and is returned to the natives for repair. Armored natives or monsters are not
wounded and their armor is not damaged; they are killed if the attack equals or exceeds their
vulnerability. The only effect of natives’ or monsters’ armor is to reduce the level of the
attack by one sharpness star.
8 Stephen McKnight 12/12/02
d) If the target is killed all its subsequent attacks in the round are canceled and the counter
is removed from the game. Characters can receive fame and notoriety for the monsters killed
by him or his hired natives, and notoriety and gold for natives killed. If he kills another
character, he gets the victim’s notoriety points and all his gold and belongings. If he kills
more than one victim by himself in a day, the character can multiply the fame/notoriety value
of the monster/ native/ character by the order in which it was killed.
i) The armor, weapons, and treasures of a character who is killed are taken by the
(unhired) native group, hired leader, or character who killed him, or abandoned in the
clearing if killed by a monster or hired non-leader.
ii) If a character kills a native he gets the native’s gold and notoriety bounty. If he kills a
hired leader he takes any belonging carried, but the group’s belongings stay on the set-up
card. If he kills an unhired leader, the group’s belongings are abandoned in the clearing.
When a hired native is killed, the employer loses notoriety points equal to the notoriety
iii) A character who is killed can be reincarnated in the same or different form and start
over fresh the next day.
e) An attack on a native/character who played a horse counter to maneuver inflicts damage on
the horse alone. The character/native cannot be harmed until the horse is killed.
f) Important exception: A red-side-down Tremendous monster that hits its target inflicts
damage and turns red-side-up. A red-side-up Tremendous monster that hits immediately kills
its target without affecting the armor or horse and is then turned red-side-down.
10. Any weapon that hit its target, regardless of effect, is turned with its asterisk side down
(unalerted). Weapons that miss are turned asterisk-side-up (alerted).
11. Disengagement: At the end of each round of combat, all red-side-up Tremendous monsters
remain assigned to their targets, and monsters and unhired natives remain assigned to characters.
All other natives and monsters become unassigned until the next round. Unhired natives and
monsters remain on their light or dark side, as they finished the round.
A character who has played a total of two asterisks on his FIGHT and MOVE chits during the round
of combat must remove a chit with one asterisk from play, fatigued. Fatigued chits are kept out of
play but not turned over, to distinguish them from wounds. The chit removed must be the same type
as the asterisks played (take choice if both FIGHT and MOVE asterisks were played). A two-asterisk
chit can be removed and (if available) a one-asterisk chit of the same type can be returned to play.
MAGIC and color chits automatically fatigue when played and do not count towards fatiguing
FIGHT or MOVE chits. MAGIC chits prepared in an ALERT phase must be fatigued at the end of
combat even if the spell was not used. After fatiguing, the character must remove from play active
(not fatigued or committed to a spell) chits for his wounds. If he doesn’t have enough active chits, he
can wound fatigued chits. When runs out of chits to wound, he dies.
A. After the end of rounds of combat, players can rearrange belongings and trade with each other.
B. All weapon counters become unalerted, curses are removed at the Chapel, and potion cards
activated during the day are discarded.
C. Permanent spells become inactivated until they are supplied with the proper color magic again.
D. If the day is the end of the month, the game ends and Victory Points are calculated.